With high-tech event season upon us I keep getting asked about this so I thought I'd repost a comment I made on Christian Buckley's blog awhile back. Being an event producer - I love these events and their viral nature. SharePint events have no barrier to entry and a strict no vendor policy which keeps things pure and agenda-less. I have made a few venue calls for a number of these in conjunction with events officially and unofficially shall we say and I agree with many of the "musts" that are being formulated into lists.
-No vendor support.
-No marketing agendas.
-No one owns SharePint. Anyone can start their own SharePint event and recruit others to join.
-No members-only jackets required.
-You may only drink Guinness per Mike Ferrara - great post here
-Use the #sharepint Twitter hashtag and send the info a few times and be super clear about where and when.
-Share the information with speakers or other community members directly for retweets.
Because conferences and trade shows are so jam-packed, there is usually only time for one SharePint event and the attendee number will be more than 100 people. Most bars/venues love their places full of paying customers. However without either someone local who knows the scene or someone to do a bit of groundwork - you can end up with a venue that isn't big enough, has bad flow, not enough standing room, doesn't have enough bar/wait staff or decides to pull out karaoke or trivia in the middle and then no one can talk.
-- Opentable.com is a great resource - you can do a quick search to see if they have a private room or seating for large parties. Many times these are free you just have to ask.
Finding a Venue & What to Ask Them:
-- What is going on in the bar the night you picked? If its trivia night or karaoke, and its a one room bar avoid it, no one will be able to talk.
-- Avoid venues that require a contract for a private room, you don't need a private room.
--Alert them of the onslaught of people coming in - they will thank you, may put up a sign and may bring on extra staff.
--Venues that typically have bigger space: sports bars, any of the Lucky Strike Bowling Venues, Irish or English pubs, venues close to sporting arenas.
--Most people are starving after working an event all day, having a place with the grill open is awesome!
--To register or not to register, this goes back to this being loose and easy, no reg and no fees.
--If guests are cool, tip well, pay their tabs, etc... the venue will remember. They always do. The opposite is true though as well. They remember...
No Pay to Play: In my opinion, one way SharePint events could get ruined is if an event producer decides to add this to their list of "Sponsored Items" ala they start to sell "SharePint" like they do a breakfast or attendee party as a sponsorship. Better if someone in the community hosts or sponsors. The only way to combat that would be for the community and vendors to not buy the sponsorship. Hopefully that doesn't happen, and it stays organic, of the community and for the community.
History: March 5, 2008 - "SharePoint By Day, SharePint by Night" - 2nd SharePint happened during the SharePoint Conference 2008 in Seattle. It was hosted by Bob Fox and Andrew Connell and was held at Kells Irish Pub. It was a great night and this concept took off from there. From then notifications about SharePint events were from AC's and other SharePoint MVP blogs. With the dawn of Twitter and Facebook, the #sharepint hashtag took off and there are now SharePint events being held in and around hundreds of high-tech conferences and trade shows all over the world. Joel Oleson recaps that second SharePint event.
Twitter - Search on #sharepint in and around an high-tech event near you….
Hope this helps those of you who are planning a SharePint!
Head Maven, www.creativemaven.com